Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Essential New Music on Display

The legacy of some of rock's boldest groundbreaking architects as well as a new "poli-rock" Los Angeles-based trio shine bright on newly-available releases.

Artist: Raspberries
Title: Pop Art Live (Omnivore)
You might like if you enjoy: The Beatles, Badfinger, the Hollies
Tell me more: Anyone who wants to get fully immersed in shimmering songcraft that exudes undeniable melodies, catchy choruses and stellar songs that get stuck in your head should check out the Raspberries' glorious 2004 reunion that has just been released as a must-have 2 CD audio set. Pop Art Live (also available digitally) boasts a pristine recording of the rock quartet's reunion concert captured at House of Blues in Cleveland, Ohio on Nov. 26, 2004. The material here is delivered with power pop precision and heft by the original lineup of singer-guitarist Eric Carmen, lead guitarist-vocalist Wally Bryson, bassist-vocalist David Smalley and drummer Jim Bonfanti. Highlights on disc one include a driving "I Wanna Be With You," a spirited take on the Who's "I Can't Explain," baroque pop-styled "Don't Wanna Say Goodbye" and harmonies-filled prize "Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)." The second disc features just as many essentials, with the lush "I Saw The Light," wistful folk rocker When You Were With Me" and anthemic "Go All The Way" sure to impress. Beatles fans (and who isn't?) take note; the Raspberries kill it with incredible takes on the John Lennon/Paul McCartney classics "Baby's In Black," "No Reply" and "Ticket To Ride." As if all that great music wasn't enough, the booklet includes reflections and notes from filmmaker/rock critic Cameron Crowe, author James Rosen and other high-profile fans of the Raspberries. Pop Art Live will be released on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017. Information: raspberriesonline.com or omnivorerecordings.com.

Artist: The Rolling Stones
Title: Some Girls: Live In Texas '78 (Eagle Rock Entertainment)
You might like if you enjoy: The Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry, Mick Jagger
Tell me more: Although The Rolling Stones' Live In Texas '78 was released on DVD back in 2011, the audio-only recording has only recently been released and is available on both CD and vinyl. Recorded at Will Rogers Auditorium in Ft. Worth, Texas on July 18, 1978, the concert recording features the British band tearing through more than a dozen originals as well as a few choice covers (including two great Chuck Berry cuts, "Let It Rock" and "Sweet Little Sixteen"). In 1978 the Rolling Stones were still considered a cutting-edge rock act and the group's undeniable swagger shows through the rowdy and rocking performance. Among the fiery performances caught here are a number of nuggets from the band's then-new album "Some Girls" including the rapid-fire rockers "When the Whip Comes Down" and "Respectable," the R&B-tinged "Beast of Burden" as well as on the dance-minded "Miss You" and country ballad "Far Away Eyes." Additionally, the band kills it on the blues rocker "Star Star," and one-two close of "Brown Sugar" and "Jumping' Jack Flash." Singer Mick Jagger, guitarists Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood (whose dueling licks delight everywhere), bassist Bill Wyman and drummer Charlie Watts are joined by keyboardists Ian 'Stu' Stewart and Ian McLagan for the powerful concert featured here. Information: eagle-rock.com.

Artist: Alex Chilton
Title: A Man Called Destruction (Omnivore)
You might like if you enjoy: Big Star, Fats Domino, the Box Tops
Tell me more: Alex Chilton's 1995 album A Man Called Destruction featured both originals and covers, with the project clearly building on his legacy as the young lead singer of the Box Tops in the 1960s and co-founder of alt-rock pioneers Big Star in the early 1970s. Now Chilton's legendary A Man Called Destruction has been reissued as a deluxe edition with seven bonus tracks. But more than the sheer number of cuts is the wide range of styles, quality of material and Chilton's mesmerizing musical personality that impress across the collection. Chilton's distinctive baritone and equally particular skills as a guitarist deliver New Orleans rhythm & blues ("Sick & Tired"), rowdy garage rock ("Lies," "You're Lookin' Good"), blues (Jimmy Reed's "You Don't Have to Go" and his own "Don't Know Anymore"), indie rock ("Don't Stop") and old-time rock 'n' roll (the rollicking original instrumental "Boplexity" and Beach Boys-styled "New Girl in School"). Information: omnivorerecordings.com.

Artist: The Nasty Housewives
Title: RESisters (HoLoGRAM Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: Joan Baez, the Indigo Girls, Kerry Getz
Tell me more: To be clear, the Nasty Housewives are no fans of President Donald Trump and have released an album (RESisters) full of melodic, sharp-witted attacks against the president. Using Trump's actions and mannerisms to help construct the lyrics of their original songs, Marcy Levy, Hope Juber and Roberta Freeman know they are preaching to the left-leaning choir with this disc (in the liner notes they rhetorically ask fans of Trump: "...why are you listening to this album?"). The trio's folk rock sensibilities recall a long line of activist singers ranging from Joan Baez to the Indigo Girls, and witty uptempo tunes ("Overrated"), intelligent pop ("Not My President") and more introspective acoustic ballads ("The Legend Of Narcissus," "Mar-a-Lago") provide a nuanced and far-flung balance on the timely so-called "poli-rock" collection. Information: HologramRecordings.com or thenastyhousewives.com.

Robert Kinsler

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